Mekelle University. The School of Graduate Studies. Faculty of DryLand Agriculture and Natural Resources

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1 Mekelle University The School of Graduate Studies Faculty of DryLand Agriculture and Natural Resources The Working Traditions and their Contribution to Rural Development, in Awra Amba Community, Northern Amhara Region - Ethiopia By Seid Mohammed Yassin A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for The Master of Science Degree In Cooperative Marketing Advisor Kelemework Tafere (PhD) March, 2008

2 Declaration This is to certify that this thesis entitled The Working traditions and their contributions to rural development, Northern Amhara Region, Ethiopia. submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the degree of M.Sc., in Cooperative Marketing to the School of Graduate Studies, Mekelle University, through the Department of Cooperatives, done by Mr. Seid Mohammed Yassin, Id. No. FDA/GR021/98 is genuine work carried out by him under my guidance. The matter embodied in this project work has not been submitted earlier for award of any Degree or Diploma to the best of my knowledge and belief. Seid Mohammed Yassin Name of the Student Signature Date Kelemework Tafere (Ph.D) Name of the supervisor: Signature Date

3 Abstract This study is an attempt to describe a community, which is founded by people whose level and faculty of consciousness involved in realization of social and economic problems of the society. The study argues that the Awra-Amba community is highly motivated and committed to find a new culture and existing working traditions that may have contributions for rural development. In this thesis therefore, the researcher examine working traditions that result from revitalization of multidimensional changes by the people to the people, which came largely as a result of the visionary founder motivation and commitment to create new working culture for which can be used as an instrument for social mobilizations in the country. The discouragement and attack of this community by external cultural, political and socioeconomic interests associated with their behavioral pattern and cultural practices in their motivation to create a new culture has largely been responsible for a continuing marginalization of the group. As a consequence a serious of revitalization has followed in Awra-Amba mode of adoption and other aspects of their social and cultural life. The Awra-Amba settlement, social organization, economic activities, cultural practices, and the overall coordination of resources (labor, land, capital and time management) and have contributed a lot for implementations of the existing rural development policies. Hence, in conclusion the study indicates that it is not difficult to judge the contribution of working traditions of the community to the implementation of the social mobilization strategies. As far as my knowledge and belief is concerned it may be good to apply the values, principles and best practices of Awra-Amba as indigenous community. The researcher have suggested that as valid measure of the successful performance of a group is the degree of which iii

4 its behavior corresponds to its values, principles and commitments, Awra-Amba can be an example of behavior that others should understand and follow the pattern. iv

5 Acknowledgements It gives me a great code of honors to record here those people whose assistance was indispensable. In the course of undertaking the study several individuals and institutions have contributed to the successful completion of the study. Therefore, I would like to say a few words of gratitude. First, I would like to extend my heart-felt gratitude to the Water Resources development Breau of Amhara for sponsoring my M.Sc study at Mekelle University. I am indebted to Ato Mamau Tsediku, for his continued encouragement. I also admire the material and moral support of Ato Mulugeta W/meskel, and Ato Haymanot Belete. Next, I would like appreciate the staff of the M.Sc. program in Cooperative Marketing at Mekelle University. I would like to thank all post gradate level instructors. I am especially thankful to my instructors Prof G.B. Pillai, Dr. Pichai, Dr. Grish Mangleek, Dr. Fistum and Head Department of Cooperatives, Dr. G.Veerakumaran for their guidance, and constructive comments were constant. I cannot mention them all by name but must limit my personal acknowledgment to just a few whose help was of primary importance. In particular, I would like to thank Ato Zumra Nuru Mohammed and all others members of Awra-Amba community. My heartily thanks, goes to all for their warm hospitality and generosity. I am also greatly indebted to my best friend Ato Abay Melaku, who is a manager of Bahir Dar Textile Factory, with his wife and first daughter,and W/ro Genet Ashagrie and Bethi- Abay, for their personal sacrifice, and materials and moral support. And Ato Solomon Tesema, Ato Yossef Tsegaye and Ato Agezew Hidaru and others, who made a painstaking reading and extend a valuable comment duly deserve my appreciations. My deepest appreciation and gratitude, goes to my major advisor Dr. Kelemwok Tafere (Ph.D), Mekelle University, who took time from his busy intellectual schedules for professional v

6 guidance and encouragement in undertaking this study and whose motivations has a particularly important impact on the development of this research work.. Errors, misinterpretations and weakness that appear in this thesis are all mine. vi

7 ACRONYMS ACSI ADA ADLI AIDS BOA CPA CSA ECA EPLUA FAO FDA FGD FGE FSS GATT GER GDP GNP Ha HIV HHH ICA Amhara Credit and Saving Institution Amhara Development Association Agricultural development led industrialization Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Bureau of Agriculture Cooperative Promotion Agency Central Statistical Authority Economic Commission for Africa Environmental Protection and Land Use Authority Food and Agricultural Organization Faculty of dry land agriculture Focus Group Discussion Federal Government of Ethiopia Food security strategy General Agreement for Tax and Tariff Gross Enrolment Rate Gross domestic product Gross national product Hectare Human Immunodeficiency Virus Household head International Cooperative Alliance vii

8 ILK ILO MDG MoFED MOH ORDA PRS Qt SAPS SHG UNESCO UNICEF USA WHO WTO Indigenous Local Knowledge International Labour Organization Millennium development Goal Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Ministry of Health Organization for Rehabilitation and Development of Amahra Region Poverty reduction strategy Quintals Structural Adjustment Progrmme Self help groups United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization United Nations Children s Emergency Fund United States of America World Health Organization World Trade Organization viii

9 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT... iii Acknowledgement... v Acronyms... vi List of Tables... xii List of Figures... xiv List of Plates... xv Chapter I: Introduction Background Statement of the Problem Research Questions Scope of the Study Objective of the Study Significance of the Study Organization of the Thesis... 8 Chapter II: Literature Review Definition The Dynamic Communitarian Dimension of Religion Globalization and Indigenous Environmental Knowledge in Ethiopia Indigenous Environmental Knowledge and Modern Agriculture Government Policies, Strategies and Development of Ethiopia ix

10 2.6. Marginalized Social Group and Traditions of Ethiopia The Rational for Child Work Culture in Ethiopia Chapter III: Materials and Methods Introduction Description of the Research Site Data Sources and Procedures Primary Data Collection Methods Secondary Data Collections Data Validation Process and Management Methods of Data Analysis Limitation of the Study Chapter IV: Results and Discussions The Founder s Background History and Challenges The Evolvement of Philosophy of Life and Working Traditions Socio Cultural Transformations in the Community Gender Relations and Empowerment in the Community Newly Emerged Values and Principles in the Community Health in the Community Education in the Community Economic Transformation in the Community Food Security and Vulnerability in the Community Income and Resource Management in the Community Change in Expenditure Patterns in the Community x

11 4.5. Political Transformation in the Community Social Control and Organization in the Community The Contributions of the Community to Rural Development Tools for Social Mobilization Relevance and Ethos to Modern Cooperative Movement Walking the Walk of Cooperative Values in the Community Future Prospects of the Community Chapter V: Conclusions and Recommendations Conclusions Recommendations References Appendix xi

12 List of Tables Page Table 4.1: Responses on Life Philosophy Table 4.2: Frequency of Responses on Existing Working Cultures Table 4.3: Responses on Harmfulness of the Existing Working Cultures Table 4.4: Responses on Perceptions for unmarried or divorced Women Table 4.5: Responses on Types of Women Participations Table 4.6: Responses on way of Marriage Table 4.7: Response on Causes of Divorce Table 4.8: Responses on How to get justices Table 4.9: Responses on Awareness on HIV/AIDS by sex of HHH Table 4.10: Responses on types of cares to be taken against HIV/AIDS Table 4.11: Educational Status of HHH by sex Table 4.12: Mean Number of Children by Schooling Status Table 4.13: Responses on whether HHs are beneficiary of Mass Media and press Table 4.14: Responses on types of Benefits obtained from Mass Media and press Table 4.15: Responses on Women s Rights of using Birth Control Table 4.16: Distribution of HHs Members by Sex of HHH Table 4.17: Family Size of HHH by Category and Sex Table 4.18: Communal Crops Production and Productivity in 1998/99 production year Table 4.19: Responses on Reasons for Increase of Crop Production Table 4.20: Households Occupations by Rank and sex of HHH Table 4.21: Responses on having shortage of money for Non Farm Activities by sex Table 4.22: Responses on Training Needed on Non-farm income generating activities Table 4.23: Annual Average HHs Income in 1998 from different Sources of Income Table 4.24: Frequency of Responses on the potential Customers for the products by sex of HHH Table 4.25: Average Annual HHs Expenditure by type and sex of HHH Table 4.26: Responses on the status of living standard Table 4.27 Members Participation in Social Organization xii

13 List of Figures Page Figure 2.1. The individual with his indigenous knowledge as an economic and social actor 33 Figure 2.2: Labour Force Participation Rates for children years for Selected Figure 2.3. Trends in Primary Gender Enrolment Rate for Ethiopia by Sex Figure 3.1. Map of Amhara region and the Woreda of the study area Figure 3.2. Map of the study area Figure 4.1: Comparison of HHs months of food requirement coverage with National and Regional figures Figure 4.2: Comparison of Food Crops Productivity with National and Regional Figures Figure 4.3: Comparison of Per-capita Food Crops Production with the Standard Figure 4.4: Comparison of HHs Average (Mean) Income from different sources Figure 4.5. Comparison of per capita income of Awra-Amba versus standard per capita income requirement Figure 4.6: Trend of Dividend payment made to members of cooperative fromtraditional and modern handicraft activities and milling services Figure 4.7: Comparison of Per-capita Annual Food Expenditure Vs the Standard xiii

14 List of Plates Page Plate 1. Local weaving by Women in Awra-Amba community Plate 2. Local spinning by men in Awra-Amba Plate 3. Social and Economic Co-operation actors of Awra-Amba Community Plate 4. Experience sharing from East Gojjam Plate 5. Teaching and learning process of Awra-Amba children by themselves Plate 6. The Founder and the Researcher are discussing about major issue of the Community Plate 7. Dr. G. Veerakumaran with his post Graduate Students visits the Community xiv

15 CHAPTER I Introduction To start with, a description of general background of Ethiopia and the Amhara is given, followed by the description of the field work area and methodology used during the research. The thesis report is based on the research finding which introduces the descriptive of the study area, statement of the problem, the research questions, the objective, the significance, the scope and organization of the study Background Ethiopia is a land of contrast. The country has a long history, mosaic of people and diverse cultural heritage and reasonably good resources for development. Yet, the majority of the population lives in absolute poverty, hunger and disease. The proportion of population below the poverty line is 44 percent (MoFED, 1999 ) and over 60 percent in 2006 with low literacy among men and women (fact book, 2006). One immediate effect of the population pressure has been diminishing farm size (CSA, 1996). Poverty eradication was and is the central development agenda of the government that guides its development activities. Thus, by the turn of the 1990s economic policies and management under the command economic system, protracted civil war and recurring drought left the economy in deep crisis (ibid). Ethiopia began the 1990s with a clear vision of reversing the socio economic crisis of the 1980s and rapidly transforming the economy. The adoption of agricultural led industrialization strategy (ADLI) provided long term development framework for economic transformation. Within the framework of the strategies, accelerated and sustainable growth in Ethiopia can be brought about 1

16 by utilizing labour-intensive rather than capital incentive production process. Ethiopia is characterized by subsistence production, the productivity of which mainly depends on the availability of active labour input. This implies that agriculture requires a strong and healthy labour force. However, available evidence shows that the prevalence of the pandemic is increasing over time, consequently reducing the quantity and quality of labour available for agricultural production (Piot, et al., 2001). It is incapacitating the productive labour force in the sector both for farm and off-farm activities. Besides, the labour loss of the patient through sickness and subsequent death, family members have to divert their productive time to care for the sick and are eventually forced to neglect farm and off-farm activities, leading to a loss of potential income that further worsen their economic position. Illness and death caused by HIV/AIDS finally leave fewer people available to work in the fields, which becomes critical during peak seasons of agricultural activities. Losing even a few workers during the crucial planting and harvesting periods can scuttle production. Moreover, the pandemic reduces the energy available/required for work and knowledge/skill necessary for production (Du Guerny, 2002b). HIV AIDS is becoming a growing threat to the effort of growth and poverty reduction. The people of Ethiopia have got a very long social, cultural and economic history of working together to fulfill their socio-economic needs. Agriculture, trade and military operations were carried out through cooperative efforts. Many social events are still taking place in rural Ethiopia through collective effort. The Federal Government of Ethiopia has identified Cooperative form 2

17 of business organizations as an instrument of socio-economic change. Many Cooperatives have emerged in the recent past to serve the suppressed and depressed community. Ironically through, the country has abundant and untapped resources which are under-utilized Policy makers and community developers are increasingly interested in alternative models for local businesses that will be both responsive to community needs as well as stimulate local economic growth. Cooperatives have the potential to foster economic growth at the community and regional level, building on the spirit of cooperation that is already prevalent in rural areas. In Amhara peasant life the homestead is the basic ecological and social unit of the peasantry. Donald N. Levin /1965:56/ in his Wax and God noted that the average homestead consists of from one to six small round structures, built of wattle /or stone, as in Menz/ and capped with conical thatched roofs. Levin /1965/ in his description of the Amhara peasant life indicates that a well-equipped homestead has one building for eating and sleeping, one for animals, one for grain storage, one as a kitchen, and one for entertaining guests, though for many peasants all these functions are served by a single large building /lbid/. The Amhara regional state is the second largest region in the country having about 90 percent of the population in the rural area with wide range of traditions and religions. Successful cooperation included and sustained by charismatic leader and farmers cooperation driven by communitarian culture and genuine cooperation based on traditional communitarian spirit of solidarity like other regional states, an understanding of revitalizations particularly of changes in social, economic, cultural and political dimensions in the Awra-Amba community is impossible 3

18 without an understanding of the larger society in which this community is found. In this section, therefore, an attempt is made to describe the traditional Amhara culture with particular emphasis on the peasant life. Such a reconstruction provides a necessary basis for an understanding of the changes that followed by the newly emerging establishment and introduction of new life philosophy, working culture and traditions of Awra-Amba community. The Awra-Amba community members, both women and men play a great role in production process like farming, weaving, and spinning and domestic service activities and in consumptions patterns. Although the community marked for work ethics, good gender relations, and other. Socio economic dynamics, little or no attempt is made to the consumptions of research inquiry. This research study therefore intends to reveal the socio-economic re-vitalizations to create new and fresh background that have contributions for rural development. Hence, the profound change in their principles and values, their impact on the new working culture and traditions constitute the background to this study Statement of the Problem In a country like Ethiopia people should work day in and day out to eradicate the existing prevailed poverty, hunger and disease. The fragmented run by individuals and groups hitherto descending through successive generations have failed to properly respond to prevailing economic quagmire of the country as a result of which Ethiopians witnessed social, political and economic tensions for many decades. Besides, certain working traditions that made sanctions on specific social groups have hampered the development of the country. For example, some specializations like blacksmithing and weaving were highly despised curtailing their proper functioning which ultimately undermined their role in stimulating the local economy. Such 4

19 perceptions would hamper the required synergy among social groups of different specialization. Undermining local views and practices in turn became an obstacle to concomitant development of the agricultural sector in the country. In Ethiopia, development policies, programmes and strategies have persistently been applied without contextualizing objective realities of the country. Local norms and value systems are often ignored. For example, development could not be achievable by valuing and promoting a male dominated system within the context of a backward work tradition. In Many Ethiopian societies, the contributions of women in the society are not duly valued; there exist fragile work ethic, and maladaptive economic culture, all of which do not apply to the Awra Amba community. Although, the traditional Ethiopian social and political system hacked off necks whenever individuals and groups exhibit significant deviations from the established social and political rules, Awra-Amba as a community with its rich indigenous, practical experience and knowledge remained resolute to confidently curve their own political, economical and social place amidst the rigid and conservative Amhara culture. Against all odds, the Awra-Amba community came with a deviant socio-economic format and thus managed to set up a separate and independent cooperative identity which, the writer believes, can serve as a model for others Research Questions The study tries to answer all interrelated research questions that are pertinent to the topic, including the following: What is the genesis of the identity of Awra-Amba community (who is the founder) what are the prominent values, principles and ideas that served as a cohesive 5

20 element to bind the Awra-Amba together?, What could be the possible implications to an overall rural development? And what are the existing social, political, cultural and economic pressures? and other related questions? 1.4. Scope of the Study This is a socio-anthropological and developmental study of Awra-Amba, the name of a small collective community. Although in itself is an investigation of the new culture and existing working traditions of the Awra-Amba, this thesis is intended as a study in the possibilities of revitalizing in social, economic, political and cultural dimensions, change in gender roles and value. The roor of Awra-Amba community is based on the back ground history of the founder (Zumra) childhood experience, redefining moment and vision of an ideal society in 1938 E.C. and the year 1942/43 E.C. These have come to have a tremendous impact on the present Awra-Amba s cohesive and integrated consciousness. The grand father of the community, Sheik Seid Hassen and his followers, had an effort to form an association of the believers of Alhaim [Alhaim is a religious group that don t follow either of the traditional Islam or Christianity rather is of conscious righteousness or doing good for all man race] Objective of the Study The over all objective of the study is to examine the role of indigenous practices and work traditions of the Awra Amba community on resources co-ordination for rural development in the economic and social dimensions. More specifically the study aims to; 6

21 Identify the existing social system of Amhara-Society which the Awra-Amba are struggling to re-vitalize (with particular emphasis on working culture) and its contribution to rural development; Investigate the philosophical underpinnings of Awra Amba community life with emphasis on the cooperative work ethic (the scarification of individual needs to group interests) Examine the challenges of survival and expansion of the Awra-Amba society; Suggest how new ideas, concepts and complex philosophy of life in an indigenous context can be effectively utilized to bring about social change by using the Awra Amaba community as an illustration Significance of the Study The study is hoped to enhance a clear understanding of re-vitalization in social, economic, cultural, gender roles and value system that the Awra-Ambas have passed through. The most important sector in Ethiopian socio-economy is the rural sector. Indigenous Knowledge of the rural community about this sector will act as a tool for development plans. The study would also be expected to be of help to development institutions and development workers to review their development activities, so that they could address the needs and problems of HIV/AIDS, harmful traditions, unfair socio-economic inequality of women, health, education, expenditure pattern and resources utilization. The study will serve to fill the gap in the Developmental and Anthropological investigation of the 7

22 Awra-Amba, which exists in the form of casual reports through different Medias. It may thus serve as a workable document for others research undertaking Organizations of the Thesis The thesis is organized in five parts. The first part introduces the background, statement of the problem, the objective, the significance, the scope, and the problems of the study. The conceptual frame work and relevant literature are reviewed in the second part. The third part discusses the research methodology. Results are presented and discussed in the fourth part and the future prospects of Awra-Amba community present and the conclusions and recommendation sections are finally appended. 8

23 CHAPTER II Literature Review The literature review of the research focused on the major area of investigation for the research. Thus literature those are concentrated on the working tradition of Ethiopia, gender empowerment and development, Revitalizations in social cultural, economical and political transformations, factors affecting rural development and others empirical research results for Ethiopia and others African countries have been assessed Definition The term indigenous knowledge is used interchangeably with tradition and local knowledge defined as a cumulative body of knowledge and beliefs handed down from generation to generation. Indigenous knowledge is created, developed and adapted to very specific biological, ecological, climatic and socio-economic conditions. The interactions between an infinite number of social, cultural, ideological, environmental, climatic, biotic, physical, and many other variables have contributed to the development of indigenous knowledge. Indigenous technical knowledge refers to people s technical knowledge and expertise about the environment. Indigenous environmental knowledge is dynamic and involves internally generated and externally borrowed and adopted knowledge. Peasant farmers are not merely passive recipients as will as inactive transmitters of culture (Attfield, 1999, 197). On the contrary, human beings are the preservers and guardians of culture through its active transmission from generation to generation. In this process of transmissions, human beings not only preserve but also create culture; accordingly, all forms of life style might be totally 9

24 abandoned or modified. Therefore, the trains of a culture can not be fixed and defined once and for all as if they are immutable (ibid) The Dynamic Communitarian Dimensions of Religion In recalling the foregoing history of religious activism and revolution against the global capitalist system within the context of Christianity and Islam, the purpose has been to display the ever present potential of religion as a tool for dynamic, purposeful change in society, a means by which to struggle against injustice of all kinds. In the hands of visionaries, religion becomes a viable base from which movements are launched to raise the dignity of the downtrodden or free a people from neo-colonial degradation and oppression. Religion, then, has an important instrumental value in motivating and directing a nation to improve its economic, political, and social condition. What is needed is the leadership of intellectuals of well-intentioned and rightly guided moral insight to apply an appropriate hermeneutic analysis to the religious texts in order to bring out the latent dynamic content relevant to the societal condition at hand-the Bible and the Qur an-that would point to a socio-economic paradigm would be helpful in moving Ethiopian society forward. The ethical and moral foundation of economic thought in the context of the Aristotle ( BC), the famous Greek philosopher, was diametrically opposed to interest-taking of any kind on financial transactions: Money exists not by nature but by law. The most hated sort (of wealth getting) and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent, therefore of all modes of getting 10

25 wealth, this is the most unnatural (1258b, POLITICS). Clearly, Aristotle held interest and those who demanded it in a great deal of contempt. For Aristotle, money was basically a medium of exchange and itself not to be held as an object for generating wealth. Thus, interest and those who demanded it were as morally degrading as pimps and prostitutes. In the foregoing glimpses into the lives of religions leaders, it has been shown that these illustrious leaders put the welfare of the communities over which they had responsibility above the selfish individualism of those greedy, avaricious few. These leaders saw interest-taking, wealth concentration in a few hands, and unreasonable demands for collateral as inimical to healthy socio-economic development. These leaders were far more interested in developing communities that were tightly knit, where all were considered brothers and sisters to one another, and where there was a propensity to work together for the common good. Thus, religions encourage the development of societies that are organic, that encourage communitarians. The communitarian idea is defined as follows: the community is more than the sum of the individuals in it; it is organic, not atomistic. The community as a whole has special and urgent needs that go beyond the needs of its individual members. The values of survival, justice, selfrespect, and so forth, depend on the recognition of those needs. Individual fulfilment, therefore, depends on a place in a community, an identity with a whole, participation in an organic social process. If the community, the factory, the neighbourhood, or the country, is well designed, its members will have a strong sense of identity with it. They will be able to make maximum use of their capacities if the community or its components are poorly designed; people will be correspondingly alienated and frustrated (Lodge, 1987, pp. 17). 11

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